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Archive for August, 2011

Close your eyes for a moment (and then open them so you can read this) and imagine with me a world where all the members of your family come home for two hours everyday to eat lunch, made from scratch (with loving hands, I might add), where it’s safe for children to walk over an hour to school and the tv doesn’t even work until 6pm because until then there’s nothing on (not lame Incredible Hulk rerun nothing on, literally, nothing on.). Such is the world my husband grew up in in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco on the very northern most tip of Africa.

When I first met Adam’s family, I was concerned about the fact that they were always yelling at each other. One day I asked him about it and was informed that they were not yelling but that is, in fact, the way it sounds when Moroccan people communicate with one another in their native tongue. I had a lot to learn about the big world…still do.

I don’t know what this was, some sort of Moroccan style crepe, I think. It was delicioso!

Let me say this…Moroccan food is good. Very good. It’s very, very good. My adorable mother in law hails from the city of Fez, which is apparently where the very best Moroccan fare derives from (or at least that is what I was recently told by a North African tourist, also an excellent cook) and I have been lucky that she is extremely forthcoming with both her recipes and technique. Moroccan foods run the gamut in taste and flavor, with some regions using dried fruit or pickled lemons in their meat recipes for a lively, sweet, piquant combination, and others taking more of savory approach. My mother in law makes more of the savory variety, with most of her dishes being of a deep, rich, meaty flavor with vegetable, grain (rice), or pasta (couscous) compliments, lots of texture and always a bit of bread. The following recipe is my own, adapted from what I have seen my mother in law do. My husband assures me it is not authentically Moroccan…nonetheless, I present for your taste enjoyment:

Mo-Rockin Couscous with Chicken or Beef

Serves 6 Adults and 2-3 Munchkins…I often serve this without any meat for a vegetarian twist.

  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (I use Canola)
  • 2 Tablespoons Better Than Bouillon, chicken flavor or 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into large cubes OR 1.5 lb. beef cut into 3″ pieces
  • 1 White Onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 Small Handfuls of Baby Carrots, halved
  • 2 Medium Sized Russet Potatoes, peeled and 1/2″ diced
  • 1 (19 oz) can Garbanzo Beans AKA Chickpeas
  • Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 5-6 Strings of Saffron or a pinch of ground Saffron (mostly for coloring)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste

Couscous

  • Couscous, 1 cup per person
  • Chicken or Beef Broth, 1 cup per cup of couscous
  • Cling Wrap

This version, made by Adam’s best friend’s Moroccan mama, uses chickpeas and beef…SO good!

Heat oils, garlic, onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper over medium heat. When the pot is hot add in beef and sear on both sides. If you are not using beef you don’t need to add the meat yet. Add Better Than Bouillon, saffron, and 4 cups of warm water and simmer for about 3 minutes, then add in chicken, carrots, potatoes, and chickpeas, if you’re using them.Add parsley and cilantro. Cover entire concoction with water and cover. Cook approximately 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender and the chicken is cooked through. You can make this right before your guests arrive but it is really one of those dishes that tastes better the longer you let it sit. You can make this in the morning or even the night before and reheat it right before you want to eat. When you’re ready to serve dinner place dried couscous in a large mixing bowl (1 cup per guest) and cover with cling wrap and then fold back half way. In a sauce pan, heat 1 cup of chicken or beef broth per cup couscous to a just boiling. Pour both into couscous and cover with cling wrap. Fluff couscous with a fork and serve in a large bowl with veggies and meat stacked up in an artistic pyramid shape…or just put it on top of the couscous. Spoon some of the sauce over the whole dish and divide the rest into small dishes and place around the table. Snarf down with warm crusty bread.

B’ saha (With Health to You!)

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Sunday

  • Adam Cooks! Homemade Pizza- Cheddar and Bacon and Feta and Kalamata Olives…SO good!

Monday

  • Grilled Turkey Burgers
  • Roasted Fingerling Potatoes (gotta use em up!)

Tuesday

  • Shrimp Salad with Balsamic Lime Dressing
  • Homemade Dinner Rolls

Wednesday

  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken (photo above)
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Steamed Rice with Lime and Cilantro

Thursday

  • Homemade Gnocchi
  • Spinach Salad with Strawberries

Friday

  • Out with Adam!

Saturday

  • Fish Tacos with Lime Crema
  • More Lime and Cilantro Rice
  • Black Beans

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Doesn’t the word Fingerling sound like a race of beings sent here to take over the planet and grow humans in Matrix-style People Gardens where they will harvest our brains and serve them as a side dish…maybe with pork tenderloin or a nice rack of lamb?

“Sir”, I would say calmly, “The Fingerlings have penetrated our atmosphere.”

“Get the bazookas” Sir would say back.

Can’t you just see this happening? I don’t know, maybe I need a day job…

The Fingerlings are here!

Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief for Fingerlings are not alien beings but beautiful little potatoes that humans can actually serve as a side dish with Pork Tenderloin or Rack of Lamb or any number of other entrée meats. I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with my dear friend Hilary and her family in their lovely, cabin-like home and that is where I was first introduced to the Fingerling potato and its gorgeous cousin, the Purple Peruvian.

Aren't these pretty?

I proceeded to be informed by Hilary’s husband, Dean, that he had latterly been on a plane and read about these purple beauties and that they were just full of antioxidants and other cancer fighting, heart protecting health benefits. Well, I Wikipedia’d it and also found out that purple potatoes have 2-4 times more antioxidants than any other type of produce. That combined with its beauty and delicious-ness may put it in the running for the world’s most perfect food. I contemplated that as I sat on my duff on a bar stool and watched my friend prepare the following recipe. Once again, I didn’t ask her for the exact measurements and instructions so this will be my best recollection of what I saw her do and what I made for my little brood last week. So without further adieu, I give you…

Hilary’s Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

  • Fingerling Potatoes, about 30-35 to serve 4
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, approximately 4 tablespoons
  • Garlic and Onion Powder, generous sprinkle of each
  • Course Salt
  • A Bit of Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin by scrubbing those little potatoes and patting them dry. Next, you can slice them into 1/2″ coins.

These ones looked kind of marbled inside...

Pour a bit of olive oil into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and then put the potatoes in. Now, pour a bit more olive oil over the potatoes, and then sprinkle with your powders, salt, and pepper. Stick that bad boy in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning the potatoes with a spatula every ten minutes so they don’t stick to the bottom.

They should look a little something like this...

Now you can serve them up with that Pork Tenderloin or Rack of Lamb we talked about and then you can yell to your family that “The Fingerlings are here!”.

Thank You, Hil! These are delish!

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Hello Everyone! Hope you all had a restful weekend and that you got to enjoy your weekend meals with people and food you love. We had a wonderful fish taco experience (more on that later) and more Apple Crisp. This week brings a few more creative apple recipes, gotta use ’em up now that plum season is just about upon us.

Good bye Apples, Hello Plums!

Sunday

  • Visit to new Ikea, so had to eat at Ikea

Monday

  • Roast
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Arugula Salad with Miso Dressing
  • Apple Crisp

Tuesday

  • Pasta Caprese
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • Garlic Toasted Bruschetta

Wednesday

  • Turkey and Swiss Paninis on Focaccia
  • Kettle Chips
  • Apples with Almond Butter

Thursday

  • Beef and Broccoli
  • Fried Rice

Friday

  • Chicken Milanese
  • Roasted Baby New Potatoes
  • Summer Slaw with Apples

Saturday

  • Garlic Roasted Chicken
  • Grilled Asparagus
  • Waldorf Salad

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Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord

For giving me the things I need

The Sun, the Rain, and the Apple Tree

The Lord is good to me.

– song sung by Disney version of Johnny Appleseed

Photo courtesy of Miss Lauren

Indeed Johnny, I must concur. The Lord truly has been good to me in so many ways only one of which being the two apple trees growing in my backyard. One day a few weeks ago I went out to “harvest” said fruit and in 15 minutes I had 72 apples! Can you believe that? 72! That’s a whole lotta apple goodness just outside my back door!

Snack possibilities, you ask? Absolutely. Pie? No question. Diced up in a Summer Slaw, you offer? Already done it and it was delicious. But the apple-y recipe that has always reigns supreme at our house is the Apple Crisp. Here’s my recipe, ideal for a cold evening but surprisingly delicious in the summer, too. Kinda like when you inadvertently eat a turkey dinner at some time other than Thanksgiving and you remember just how amazing that meal really is.

Comforting Apple Crisp

  • 6 cups apples, preferably, Granny Smith, peeled and sliced

Topping

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup cold butter

This one was so tasty, I was almost too late to take the photo!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9 x 9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Place apples in bottom of dish.
  4. Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Using two butter knives, cut in butter into flour mixture.
  6. Pour flour mixture over apples.
  7. Bake for about 50-55 minutes.
  8. Serve over French Vanilla ice cream.
  9. Smile, you’re eating Apple Crisp.

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Yesterday, I spent the day with my dear friend Erin who is an amazing home cook and endlessly creative in the kitchen. She is always dreaming up delightful culinary combinations and her cups runneth over with refreshing ways to make ordinary drinks (or at least the people who drink them), sing. Well, leave it to this little lady to figure out how to dress up a hot dog.

If I were able to multi-task, I would have remembered to ask her about the exact recipe and stuff my face with the lovely Crab Salad she set in front of me, but I think you can all guess which way that went. Therefore, the following is a fumbled version of the toothsome porkers she served up.

Erin’s Pigs in a Blanket (of Delicious)

  • 1 Pkg. Hebrew National Hot Dogs (the big ones)
  • 1 Pkg. Frozen Bread Dough or Homemade Bread Dough
  • Fixins (you got your ketchup, your mustard…whatever you like)
  • Hungry Friends, preferably small children who have been swimming all day

Thaw bread dough on counter until it becomes soft enough to roll out a bit. Tear dough into the same amount of pieces as there are dogs. Roll out one piece of dough into a little circle large enough to encompass a hot dog. Wrap dough around dog. Repeat for all remaining dogs and dough. Place in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the dough turns all golden-y.

She also told me she makes these ahead of time and that they freeze beautifully so don’t be shy about making a whole bunch of them.

Thank you, Erin! Wilbur never tasted so good…

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